Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BG Wednesday: Masons

Today, we had 5 people show up for BG Wednesday. This tends to be an awkward number because our preference is to split into smaller groups. This week the games which were voted for were Masons and Camelot Legends. No one had any good 5-player games, so we did a 2-3 split. The guy who owns Camelot Legends accidentally forgot to bring it, so three people ended up playing Spree, while Jack and I went 2P on Masons.

I had voted for Masons this week. I've noticed that I'm pretty much always in the mood to play it. I've tried to put a finger on what it is about the game that I like so much, but haven't fully figured out what that "vibe" is that makes it always appealing. I won't mention all the reasons I like it here because it's not a review, but I'll at least mention that the game tends to be light, simple, and has a nice balance of luck and strategy. I would give it a similar weight to Carcassonne.

I haven't played many games by Leo Colovini. In fact, Masons and Cartagena are the only two I can think of right now. If you know of other games I might like by Colovini, please comment to let me know!

The game started out with both of us building in the middle of the board. I had a really crummy hand in the beginning. Fortunately, it wasn't long before Jack passed me up and I was able to swap 5 of my 7 cards out (switching out cards is a benefit of being in last place - yes, it's an official rule. It's a great balancing feature.). About midway through the game, we found ourselves tied at 38 points.

Soon, I completed a city, initiating scoring, and I scored two of the "1 point for each freestanding tower" cards. There were 12 freestanding towers at the time, so I moved ahead 24 points which is pretty tasty for one turn.

Jack had been working on the center of the board for a while, but then shifted over and starting laying loose walls, towers, and houses all over the west border. This led me to the assumption that he must have a card for scoring that guild's region - the red, white and blue guild. I happened to be building on the opposite side, loading up the east with black towers. Once I completed this big city, I scored a "2 points for every black tower in the city" card and a "1 point for every tower in the city" card. There were 7 black towers and 11 total towers, which gave me 24 points, boosting me from 62 points to 86 points. Jack took this opportunity to score his western region. He played two "red, white, and blue guild" cards, bringing in 32 points, launching him from 38 to 70 points.

At this point, the supply stacks were down to: 3 towers, 5 walls, 6 palaces, and a bunch of houses. The board was loaded, pieces everywhere.

I scored a two-triangle card, bringing in 7 points. So did Jack. On top of that, he scored a "2 points for every freestanding gray tower" card. There were 6 gray towers - another 12 points. We were now at 94 and 89 - a narrow lead in my favor.

I joined two large cities, going for the classic Masons "mega city". My hand was full of lameness, so I was trying to score for individually colored palaces (3 points each). This move left us with only 2 palaces in the supply - both yellow. I played the "1 point for every palace" card (8 for 8 points) and a "3 points for rose palaces, 1 point for rose houses" card for 8 more points. I was up to 110 points now, with only 4 cards left in my hand. Jack did nothing more than discard and draw two.

We each scored 6 points on a single triangle city, then Jack joined a mega city. Unfortunately for him, he chose to roll after he had combined cities. He rolled two yellow houses. Joined with the other yellow houses in the city, this used up the last two yellow palaces, initiating the end game. Jack got 12 points for gray towers and 10 points for palaces. I snagged 9 points for yellow palaces and 5 points for green houses in the city.

The final scores: Jack - 117, me - 130. It was a close game. Jack technically had the opportunity to take back that last move and roll before joining the mega city. But because we were running low on time, he stuck with his original move. Had he taken it back, the two yellow palaces wouldn't have been used up, and Jack could have scored more cards for lots of points - likely bringing him the win. Jack's always a good sport.

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